21 Day Practice of Capitalism – Day 14 – Competitive Strategies

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Competitive Strategies was my favorite course in the three year Owner President Managed (OPM) program I went through at Harvard Business School.   I loved Michael Porter’s work and routinely use his five force analysis to assess our competitive positioning for new pursuits.   I also loved Cynthia Montgomery’s work on Corporate Strategy.   The biggest take away was how important it is to cut out a unique space in the market.  The more different you can make your product and/or service, the better you can help your customers achieve value that is unique to their needs, the more competitive you are.  Montgomery had us identify our three core differentiating strategies.   For my businesses the three differentiating strategies are Elegance, Best Friend Customer Service and what we call “being a cheetah” – which means make it fast and fun to get the job done.  To an engineer, elegance has a very distinct definition – it means perfectly fit for use – you just know as you are experiencing whatever it is we create – that it was absolutely meant just for you to be experiencing.   The elegance shows you that your every need and desire was anticipated even before you knew you needed it.   We design all our student experiences in Cheetah Learning with these core differentiating strategies.   We are also designing the Haines Guest House with the same three strategies.  The home is elegant just by it’s very design in the rugged environment of Alaska.   Our gracious host epitomizes best friend customer service – it’s as if he knows what you need before you know.   And we are making it easy for him to stay gracious by setting up the systems so everything in the guest experience keeps them comfortable and just tickled beyond belief.   Our new host is also learning from our seasoned Cheetah’s onsite – Kent and Elissa, exactly what it means to “be a cheetah.”   First we were going to set up the B&B to be ready for the start of the summer season.   Then we realized we could be ready for heliskiing season in March.   And after we put it into Cheetah gear – we are now ready to start selling rooms – a whole month early.   Elegance, Best Friend Customer Service, an Be a Cheetah – three core strategies that have helped my businesses soar.

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